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Situation in Gaza 'catastrophic': Five UN agencies

'Children, pregnant women and the elderly remain the most vulnerable; nearly half of Gaza's population are children'

By AFP - Oct 22,2023 - Last updated at Oct 22,2023

A doctor and a man carry an infant injured after Israeli bombardment, at the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on Saturday (AFP photo)

GENEVA – The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is "catastrophic," five United Nations agencies said on Saturday, calling for more international help as conditions deteriorate in the densely populated coastal enclave.

Their statement came as Israel said it would step up its strikes in Gaza to increase pressure on Hamas, and its senior officers warned troops to be ready to enter the besieged Palestinian territory.

Since shock Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7 left 1,400 dead, Israel has launched devastating air and ground bombardments of Gaza. The Hamas authorities say 4,385 people have died.

The statement by the UN agencies came as the first aid trucks arrived in Gaza from Egypt Saturday.

"More than 1.6 million people in Gaza are in critical need of humanitarian aid," said the statement from agencies including the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, the children's agency.

"Children, pregnant women and the elderly remain the most vulnerable. Nearly half of Gaza's population are children," it added.

"Gaza was a desperate humanitarian situation before the most recent hostilities," it added.

"It is now catastrophic. The world must do more."

The other three agencies to sign the statement were the World Food Programme, the development agency UNDP and the UNFPA, the population fund.

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